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Novice requires 6 suggestions for first whisky tasting

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Novice requires 6 suggestions for first whisky tasting

Postby VickTheViking » Sat Oct 08, 2005 12:43 am

Hi Folks

I am a novice here, but I do enjoy the odd glass of whisky. Well I have organised a whisky tasting at my place next saturday with about 8 mates.

I am not sure what whiskys would be appropriate for a mixed bunch of drinkers nor the format for making tasting notes.

1) Any suggestions for say about 6-8 whiskeys for first timers?

2) Where can I download some tasting forms

The plan is each person will introduce a bottle then we taste and score.

PS I live in Australia if that makes any difference.

Thanks
VickTheVicking
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:04 am

You seem to have it sorted out already, private message your email address and I'll email you back a nosing and tasting sheet which you can print and photo copy if you like. They include notes and scores etc.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Oct 08, 2005 2:33 am

Admiral can give you the best advice, since he knows what's available in Australia. I think you ought to try to get four to six bottles of as widely varying style as possible for your first tasting, just to get an idea of what's out there. Offhand, I might say Balvenie 10, Macallan 12, Lagavulin 16, a good Irish like Bushmills Malt, a bourbon. When you've decided what you're going to have, let us know, and we'll give you thirty different opinions on the order in which to taste them.
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Postby VickTheViking » Sat Oct 08, 2005 3:57 am

Thanks for the suggestions MrTattieHeid. So far my list of wants and haves looks like this: -

Belvenie (10) - Want
Glenmorangie (15) - Have
Jonny Walker Gold (18) - Have
Bushmills - Want

I am trying to see if the ones you suggested are available locally (I live in regional Australia)

It would seem that six whiskys are enough for a single tasting session, would you guys agree? I've been to some wine tastings and get snowed under until in the end you have no idea what you are tasting.

Cheers
Phil
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Postby Frodo » Sat Oct 08, 2005 8:29 am

Hi Phil, and welcome to the forum:

1) I think 6 whiskies are a good number for a tasting. More and I would think your palate can get bogged down.

2) You need an Islay whisky! I'd suggest Bowmore, or Bruichladdich if you were concerned about people not liking sharp tastes. At least something with an Island character - Clynelish or Highland Park would be two highly regarded options.

Perhaps a bourbon? Admiral or Squire would be a good bet regarding what you can get in Oz. I like your list already, but keep in mind it leans heavily on easy-going whisky instead of representing the broad spectrum. That's not a bad thing in that people can get turned off the taste of strong tasting whisky.

Good luck with your event!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Oct 08, 2005 12:41 pm

Frodo, what's the point of having an Islay on the list that isn't one of the Kildaltons? The idea for a first tasting is, I think, to get the big picture. Lagavulin, Laphroaig, or Ardbeg belongs there, and I think the first would be the best choice--the other two ought to be saved for "further exploration".

Glenmorangie is a good choice; if you can't find Balvenie, certainly Glenfiddich would fit the bill in that spot. Highland Park is a good idea, too. Clynelish would be a great bridge to the Islay, with Talisker or Old Pulteney as alternatives. So:

-Balvenie or Glenfiddich

-Bushmills Malt or Redbreast

-Highland Park

-Something sherried--Macallan (not Fine Oak--unfortunately, might be all you can get in Oz), Mortlach, or Glenfarclas

-Glenmorangie

-Clynelish or Talisker

-Lagavulin or Laphroaig (I think Ardbeg should be saved for a real lightbulb moment)

Well, that's seven, but I think it would be a good range. You could skip one in the middle, maybe save Irish and bourbon for another day.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sat Oct 08, 2005 9:41 pm

First-timers should be introduced to some of the wide range of flavors not nessesarily by region. Perhaps one of each in the style of, for example; Spicy, Peaty, Sweet & Smooth, Sherried and Peated & Sherried. I think these categories are easier to demonstate the wider range of flavor profiles available with scotch whisky. At first i was impressed with the smoothness of the whisky and secondly the wide range of flavors, i was not impressed by the fact that different regions produced whisky that was only somewhat unique to that particular area. I'd rather go to a whisky tasting than a geography lesson. :wink:
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Postby Frodo » Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:52 am

Point taken Lord P.. I guess I think of regional influances as a way for beginners to grab onto something to explain variations in taste. It's not totally accurate anymore, but it's a way to introduce geography and history to the dram and the importance of tradition in whisky making. For me, it underscores the concept that whisky making can be done as a craft, and the resulting benefits of this process have their roots in tradition IMHO.

Mr T-H:

I get your point about the Kidaltons, but I think that if you are creating a tasting with semi or non-whisky drinkers in mind, you might want to offer a much smaller breadth of choice. I remember organizing a tasting with a similar crowd, the Macallan and Ardbeg were not popular choices. In hindsight, I would have rather gone with Highland Park, Scapa, Talisker or Bowmore as the island whisky, and perhaps the CS Abelour for the sherry. I'd like to hear from those who organize tastings about their thoughts on the matter.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sun Oct 09, 2005 5:01 am

I never believed in tutorials until i was paid to lead them and always hated geography until i got to travel but whisky tasting is pure fun. I guess if i came by the chance to revisit Scotland in the future that i would be more interested in the regional history and geography.
I might suggest the following: Spicy....Rosebank, Peaty...Ardbeg,
Sweet and Smooth...Glenrothes or Blair Athol, Sherried...Aberlour
a bunadh, Sherried and Peated...Lagavulin. I know it sounds like the '56 Yankees batting line-up(all clean-up hitters :lol: ) but life is short so go for the gusto.
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Postby Admiral » Sun Oct 09, 2005 1:26 pm

Hi Phil,

Despite Mr Tattieheid's plea for the Islay malt to be from one of the Kildalton distilleries (Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Ardbeg), I suspect these three might be harder to find in Byron Bay. If you have a Woolworths chain store near you (i.e. First Estate, BWS, Dan Murphy's, etc) then you'll probably be able to find a bottle of Bowmore Legend. This should do you nicely as a representative whisky from Islay.

When I first read your post, I presumed you were going to look at six different scotches, but I gather from the rest of the replies that other whisky styles are also being considered.

If you're keen for an Irish whiskey, may I suggest you get Black Bush, instead of Bushmills. The Black Bush is a vastly superior whiskey, and I don't think too many people here would disagree. Black Bush is also probably easier to find around Byron Bay, too.

The Balvenie 10yo is a good choice, if you can find it. My advice would be to avoid something like Glenfiddich.....I doubt it will excite too many tastebuds, and it will just make the other whiskies taste better than they really are! :wink:

Let me know which liquor store chains you have near you, and I'll then have a better idea of what's available to you.

Alternatively, if you're happy to pay $12 postage (for about 5 bottles), you can get an enormous range of whiskies shipped to you from a special whisky store in Adelaide - they stock a tonne of stuff that isn't normally imported into Oz.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Tom » Sun Oct 09, 2005 10:57 pm

Hello Phil,

First of all welcome to the forum.
Six whiskies is indeed enough for any one tasting. It has been proven that after six whiskies your palate degenerates, for the more experienced tasters amongst us this might be more, but from your post I gather that this tasting will be amongst relative whisky novices.

Although I am sure the idea of writing notes is attractive, it has been my own experience that not many people actually like making notes. On the tastings I host at home there are very few people that make notes, this doesnt mean they dont appreciate the whiskies, they just enjoy it and remember the ones they really like. so perhaps you could let the guests decide for themselfes if they will make notes or not. For what its worth, the most fun on tastings I participated in where the ones where we did not make notes at all. It creates a more loose environment (specially for people that aren't used to make notes).

That being said, it's your tasting so you do as you prefer and see fit best. Here are my own suggestions of six malts suiteble for relative beginners but still holding enough depth to interest the ones that are experienced in malts.

- Like Admiral said, if you wish to include a blend or just something different (ideal to start the tasting with, I do this always myself too) Blackbush. Hell of a lot better then Bushmills and a great blend by any standard. Its always a good idea to include a good blend so people can try to spot the difference between blends and malts. To make it even more interesting you could give the blend blind.
- Balvenie 10 or 15. (A must have for everyone, see if anyone can spot the honey) The 12 is double matured making it more difficult for the beginners to know what's going on.
- Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve. Forget what some people say about Glenfiddich, this is complex stuff at any rate. Search for info about this bottling, so you can explain your guests what this is all about, I guarantee you they will have learnt something. Not the best Glenfiddich, but certainly an interesting one, and deffinatly to those that claim Glenfiddich cant make good whisky.
- The third and fourth whisky on a tasting (IMHO) should always be the most complex. Because the tastebuds have had their warm up and are in top condition now. Also everyone is in the mood now.Beware of giving the most expencive/oldest whisky last, as people tend to get "hazed" and their judgment might be clouded. So, for number four I suggest the oldest whisky you plan to serve. Something along the lines of Glenfarclas 15 (This is an excellent suggestion for any tasting) or a Macallan 18, or any Independent bottling older then 15Y old. (Including an IB is always interesting for those that are more experienced.)
- Ardbeg Uigeadaile, Lagavulin 16 or Laphroaig Cask Strength. At any rate an Islay and preferebly with heavy peat so people get to learn about peat. Expect to lose about half of your audience here, peat is love or hate, but the one's that will appreciate it will be gratefull to you forever.
- And finally a sherry monster. Sherry will infuse your tastebuds and will last a dominating flavor on your tongue, so this is best kept last. Especially on Cask strength wich IMHO should be the finishing touch of a tasting. The same can be said from peat, but in my own experience sherry is more dominant then peat. So for the last one you could opt for : Aberlour A'Bunadh or Glenfarclas 105, The latter is great to finish off with cause it will numb your tastebuds completely, the first is quite complex and chances are that the beginners wont get the subtle nuances of it but instead have the heavy sherry. You could also opt for a IB here and look for any first fill sherry cask on cask strength. It should do the job nicely and might end up cheaper.

Anyway, this post turned out longer then I anticipated but hopefully it was of some help.
Kind regards, Tom
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Postby VickTheViking » Mon Oct 10, 2005 9:07 am

Hi Guys

Big thanks to all the posters here. I have had to print out all the replys so I can go through them properly.

I will post my final thoughts and the bottles I have managed to secure, perhaps I can fine tune this if necessary.

Thanks
Phil
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Postby Aidan » Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:02 am

Tom wrote:Hello Phil,


- Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve. Forget what some people say about Glenfiddich, this is complex stuff at any rate. Search for info about this bottling, so you can explain your guests what this is all about, I guarantee you they will have learnt something. Not the best Glenfiddich, but certainly an interesting one, and deffinatly to those that claim Glenfiddich cant make good whisky.


I'd deffinately agree with that, Tom.
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Postby chrisig » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:22 pm

Hi Phil,

I would suggest the following:

Cardhu or Glenfiddich or Glen Grant (for a start)

Glen Elgin and/or Dalwhinnie (for a standard allround malt)

Glendronach or Glenfarclas or Bowmore Darkest (for sherry)

Highland Park or Talisker (for medium Island taste)

Ardbeg or Lagavulin (for the real Islay thing)

Bushmills Malt (if you want to try Irish also)

Slainte, Chris
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:38 pm

Going for reasonably widely available, standard ages and aiming for a range of flavours, I would suggest:

Auchentoshan - Lowland, quite thin
Royal Lochnagar - Rich fruitcake and dry finish
Old Pulteney - Sweet, but varnishy
Aberlour - Sherry
Highland Park - Heather honey, rich and smooth
Laphroaig - Medicinal
Ardbeg - Sweet peat smoke

That's seven, but all quite distinctive. I think it would be worth trying the two Islays to get a feel for the variation you can get in peaty whiskies. There are plenty of flavours that aren't included in this list, including the orangey stuff (e.g. Longmorn); the malty ones (Glenmorangie); the floral (Glenlochy); the chocolatey (Cadenhead's 8yo Braes of Glenlivet); the minty (Cadenhead's 16yo Pittyvaich); and a host of other flavours.

Happy tasting, whatever you choose.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:42 pm

Nice suggestions Nick, but unfortunately....

Auchentoshan,
Royal Lochnagar,
Old Pulteney,
Longmorn,
and anything from Cadenhead

are not available here in Australia.

You guys really don't know how lucky you've got it! :roll:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:53 pm

Admiral wrote:Nice suggestions Nick, but unfortunately....

Auchentoshan,
Royal Lochnagar,
Old Pulteney,
Longmorn,
and anything from Cadenhead

are not available here in Australia.

You guys really don't know how lucky you've got it! :roll:


Sorry. If you post a link to a decent whisky shop in Oz, then I'd be happy to try again.

Incidentally, I used to live in Ireland and there were relatively few malts available. I know what it's like - and I do know how lucky I am now!
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Postby Admiral » Mon Oct 10, 2005 1:03 pm

If you post a link to a decent whisky shop in Oz, then I'd be happy to try again.


If we had a decent whisky shop in Oz, then the whiskies you mentioned above would be available, and you and I wouldn't be having this conversation right now! :D :lol:

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Wed Oct 12, 2005 12:33 am

Hi Vick

In answer to your second question, if you go to http://www.laphroaig.com and sign up to become a friend of Laphroaig you will then be able to get to the FOL Bureau, where you will be able to download a Tasting Pack.

I hope this helps.

Cheers

Paul
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Postby VickTheViking » Fri Oct 14, 2005 12:54 am

Ok guys, here it is:-

I have taken all your suggestions in to consideration and combined that with what is available here and come up with these bottles.

Could anyone suggest a tasting order so as to get the maximum from each. I mean I dont want to clog up the tast buds on the first bottle, if you know what I mean?

1) Glenmorangie
2) Bushmills
3) Laphroaig
4) Makers Mark Bourbon
5) Dimple
6) Higland Park
7) Cardhu

Many thanks again
Phil
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Postby VickTheViking » Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:02 am

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the link to Laphroaig's web site. Very informative.

Phil
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My suggestions:

Postby YK23 » Fri Oct 14, 2005 3:26 am

Auchentoshan Three Wood
Balvenie 10 Year Old, Founder's Reserve
Caol Ila 12 Years Old
Glenmorangie 10 Year Old
Isle of Jura Superstition
Macallan 10 Year Old
Oban
Highland Park Aged 12 Years
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Postby Admiral » Fri Oct 14, 2005 4:25 am

Hi Phil,

Based on your final selected list, I would suggest the following tasting order:

1. Bushmills
2. Glenmorangie
3. Dimple
4. Cardhu
5. Highland Park
6. Makers Mark
7. Laphroaig

I would recommend a palate cleanser in between 6 & 7, as the Markers Mark will be very sweet compared to its predecessors, and the final dram will be a return to a less-sweet scotch, albeit it a beautifully smokey & peaty one.

The Dimple & Cardhu could probably be swapped without too much impact on the evening's affairs.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 17, 2005 12:41 pm

I would taste the Glenmorangie before the Bush. Both are light but the Glenmorangie is better quality and probably deserves to get the "untainted" hearing. I wonder also whether you mightn't hold the Make's Mark for another evening. Personally, I find Bourbon tends to lead in a (delicious) direction of its own that makes it hard to take a Scotch afterwards. Just thoughts...
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Postby Admiral » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:40 am

I would taste the Glenmorangie before the Bush. Both are light but the Glenmorangie is better quality and probably deserves to get the "untainted" hearing.


Possibly, but it can also be confusing to the palate to taste

1. Scotch
2. Irish
3. Scotch
4. Scotch...etc...etc

Better to get the Irish whiskey out of the way separately, so that when you go on to compare whiskies 2, 3 and 4, you are comparing scotch with scotch.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:24 am

I would normally agree, but I don't think Bushmills Single Malt is Irish in style. Essentially it is a Scotch in both method and flavour. The fact that it was distilled in Ireland, as distinct from Islay, Arran or Ayrshire is more a point of geography than taste. If, though, you were drinking Black Bush or blended Bush then I would accept that the pot still content made a marked difference.
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Postby Admiral » Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:13 pm

Fair enough! :)

(Although I reckon that if I lined up 5 whiskies, blindfolded you, and told you that one of them was Bushmills, you'd be able to pick which one it was! :wink: )

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Oct 18, 2005 2:57 pm

I probably could, but having lived in Beal Feirste for many years I got to know Bushmills pretty well. It would be interesting to line up the six malts in your list (leaving out the Bourbon) and asking relative novices if they could pick the odd one out - without guiding them by telling them what to look for. My guess is that they would go for Laphroaig.
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Postby Aidan » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:05 pm

I think the Bushmills is given away by the finish. It is quite unusual.

If you could include one of the Bushmills single barrels it would be very interesting. I don't know how easy these are toget, though. It's seems they are more available abroad than they are in Ireland.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Oct 19, 2005 4:09 am

I wasn't even aware that Bushmills had bottled some single casks! Needless to say, the 10yo is all we get here.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Aidan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:51 am

Yes, they do lots of them. Rum casks, sherry casks and bourbon casks. I haven't had many of them, but the rum cask one I tasted was very good, and quite hard to work out.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:59 am

Yes, they bottled a rum, a sherry and a bourbon for Canada, it even says so on the bottles! The rum was by far the best and naturally, the most expensive.
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Postby Aidan » Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:05 am

Yeah, they aren't available in Ireland, for some strange reason. They are released in Germany, France, the U.S. and Canada.
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